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Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

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Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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If you were a teenager in the 1950s...

The appeal of The Stroll is that (1) everybody could do it, and (2) it was the luck of the line who your partner turned out to be, unless you cheated and traded places in line.

Now here is the very same generation in 2010. I filmed this at a Platters revival concert in Three Oaks, Michigan. What a difference 62 years can make.

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Superheroes always make three-point landings.

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There must be a reason why. Not a physical reason, but one involving style or artistry. It creates a more compact character shape, implying tension. Better than just plain landing on your feet. This nifty video was edited by Duncan Robson, with music by Joel Robson. It was first shown at ROFLCon III, a con I've never heard of, and why not?

Thanks to reader Chris Swanson for the link.

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Strategies of a Pub Dog

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Marie Haws found this cartoon for the latest issue of the Ebert Club Newsletter. She writes: "It's by the British cartoonist/animator behind the Daily Express' cartoon strip "Bewley." Ant Blades has designed a series of clever shorts for BBC Comedy and various commercial clients under the signature "Sketchy" as produced by Bird Box Studio, an indie animation house in London, England." Marie is herself an artist and animator.

Go here to join the 6,000 subscribers to The Ebert Club Newsletter. Your subscription directly supports the Far-Flung Correspondents and the Demanders (critics of On Demand videos) on my site.

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"Helicopter." A film about his mother's death

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From Ari Gold:

When I was twenty, my mother was killed in a helicopter crash with rock music promoter Bill Graham, whom she had recently begun dating after a nearly two-decades courtship. To many rock musicians and fans, Graham was a god; to my brother, my sister, and me, who hardly knew him, it seemed his death was so big it just took our mother with it.

"Helicopter" is a recreation of the emotional aftermath of sudden loss. Nothing could have prepared me for the loss of the person who knew me better than anyone in the world. Nothing could have prepared me for the absurdity of a "famous" death.

My sister Nina performed the voice of our mother, and my brilliant twin brother Ethan composed the music for the film, but, not wanting a documentary, I used actors (actually friends of mine) to play the three of us on film. The movie combines re-enacted scenes--and a few photos and videos from reality--with several kinds of animation which are close to how I actually experienced the truth.

I made "Helicopter" with so many different unreal elements in order to draw a chalk circle around a very personal event, in the hopes that by the last frame of the film, a viewer sees through the circle to his or her own life. I wasn't interested in presenting objective reality--I preferred the subjective reality of a young man, still wanting to talk to his mother about romantic troubles, who suddenly finds that his mother no longer exists. This is the reality of a person trying to comprehend death.

Finally, the film is about the way the mind can filter through any cacophony to find life's core, the one thing that matters: love.

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Anne Keegan was a newspaper reporter

And a friend. And a great human being. And the best dancer I ever rock-and-rolled with. When I think back on those years, she embodied what the newspaper business was all about. And in Leonard Aronson, a producer and writer who made this tribute, she found her soulmate. That era is fading away. But I was so lucky to have known it, and to call them friends.

Memories in The Reader by Michael Miner, who covers Chicago journalism.

The Tribune obituary by Rick Kogan.

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Ebert Club All-Time Short Film Retrospective

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The Ebert Club recently celebrated its 2nd birthday and in honor of the occasion, we'd like to share a collection of short films which have appeared inside the Newsletter. The cream of the crop!  And to explore an even greater assortment of finds and discoveries, please join the Ebert Club. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on Roger's site.

Fly (2010) Directed by Alan Short, the "Fly" is part of a series of animated shorts from Aardman Animation. Synopsis: A man and his pet dog attempt to remove a pesky fly with humorous results...

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New Year's with Steve: In tribute to a great heart

* *It's hard to believe Steve Goodman has been gone for 25 years. Even though we knew he had leukemia, and sang for 16 years with it, he fought it with courage and good cheer. You counted yourself blessed to find a chair when he presided at the Earl of Old Town every New Year's Eve.

Steve was the composer of great songs funny and sad, and a guitarist of amazing skill. He didn't claim to have a great voice, but he had the right voice for Steve Goodman and his loving audiences. He was above all a friendly soul with a big grin, and he would sing anything on New Year's Eve if it made him laugh."I miss my old man tonight," he sang in one of his great songs. I miss Steve Goodman tonight. • • * • * *Steve's most famous song, played to our astronauts on the Moon, was "The City of New Orleans." He was in fine form here, with his dear friend Jethro Burns. A later performance is offered lower down on this page. * *

* * * ** * Pete Seeger, Harry Chapin and Steve *Steve sings "The Twentieth Century is Almost Over" * *

* * ** *Steve and Jethro Burns *Steve performs "Tico Tico" with Jethro. When Homer and Jethro performed before the Fourth of July fireworks at Memorial Stadium in Urbana - Champaign in the 1950s, I ran up 15 flights of stairs to get their autograph. * *

* * * ** *Steve performs "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" from a rooftop overlooking Wrigley Field. * *

* * * ** *Janis Ian and Steve *Steve does his tongue-twister "Talk Backwards" *

* * * * * *Steve and John Prine sing Steve's song "Souvenirs" *

* * * * * *John Prine sings Steve's "My Old Man" *

* * * * * * *Steve and Jethro singing Michael Peter Smith's "Dutchman." Steve and many others in the Chicago Folk Revival (John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, Larry Rand, Fred Holstein) all had a special love for this song, which Steve popularized. • *

* * • * *Steve and Jimmy Buffet *Steve and Bobby Bare live, singing "The City of New Orleans." Looking at this video, my feeling is that Steve was fairly ill at this time. There's a little energy lacking in his voice. But the joy is there. * •

* * * * * •The City pulling out of Chicago more than 60 years ago * *For a bio, discography and ordering info for all of Steve's many albums, this is the place to go. And by the way, the guy on the left in the photo is Earl Pionke, owner of the legendary folk mecca The Earl of Old Town. Once when he was throwing out a drunk, the guy demanded to know his last name, "Of Old Town," he said.

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Silent weirdness with the Alloy Orchestra

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The famed Alloy Orchestra of Cambridge, Mass., performed their original compositions to a group of "Wild and Weird" early silent shorts on April 27 at Ebertfest. This is a sample of the program, with titles by Ken Winokur. Check their web site to see when they're coming to your area.

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